Vietnaps

Every summer when I was in undergrad, I worked as a research assistant at a hospital in Calgary. I loved the job, but the 6:00am wake-ups killed me. I’m not a morning person (which is an actual thing), and was routinely a groggy mess by mid-afternoon. It was difficult to complete any task efficiently at this point.

One day, I decided to embark on a mission around the hospital to claim a quiet space to nap. I eventually found a small lounge in a very low-traffic wing. Here, I moved two love seats together, curled up on them, and closed my eyes. It was a great relief. 

I returned to work 15 minutes later alert, focused, and noticeably kinder to everyone around me. I also got a lot more work completed than I ever had during these hours, and went home happy. So, from then on, I did this everyday during my afternoon break. 

Yet, despite this clearly being a win-win-win situation, I accumulated a ton of shame surrounding my on-the-job naps. I didn’t tell any of my colleagues and was embarrassed whenever the occasional hospital inhabitant noticed me snoozing. I knew how unprofessional this looked, especially in our Western culture where we are expected to simply pound down another cup of coffee to forge through the rest of the day.

However, when I recently visited my parent’s birthplace in Vietnam, I noticed that EVERYBODY took afternoon naps. People everywhere stopped what they were doing, picked a spot on the floor, and went horizontal. In fact, if you ride a bus during these hours, the seats are horizontal, so you have no choice. 

It amazed me that Vietnamese culture chose to honor our afternoon circadian dip, the natural decrease in energy and alertness that occurs around 2:00pm – 4:00pm (which I eventually learned about with great validation after that hospital job). Upon returning, I yearned even more for this fantastic nap culture.

Yet despite the recent rise of work-from-home conditions which have made it easier to nap during the day, there is still so much resistance, shame, and clinical-controversy around them. For example, in CBT-Insomnia sessions, we are often told to avoid naps as they will relieve too much sleep pressure and disrupt our nightly slumber.

While this is true for some people in some circumstances, it isn’t for everybody. For me, short afternoon naps make everything feel 1000 times better in my body and mind, and don’t affect my sleep later on (sometimes even improving it). Individual differences matter big here and while I can’t speak for you, I would suggest experimenting for yourself instead of taking anyone’s advice so strictly.

Anyways, I hope we can one day get to a point where we respect the choices of nap-lovers and haters alike, so we can all work and rest in a way that nourishes our unique bodies and circumstances.

…P.S. yoga nidra can be a beautiful nap companion :)

They aren’t here for your entertainment

On Friday nights when the weather is right, my partner and his friends will set up a portable floor and speakers in Uptown Waterloo and break dance. It’s a fun time. 

Passersby will often stop to watch, with some admiring curiously from afar while others express their appreciation more directly. These are usually cheerful interactions. 

However, there is another category of people who occasionally approach uninvited—White folks who actively believe that my partner and his friends (all racialized men) were there for the sole purpose of entertaining them. They will literally bark orders, “YOU! You’re up next!” “Do a head spin!” “AGAIN!” “Okay, now you go!” “Don’t stop, keep going!!!” basically as they would to circus animals.

It is truly a buzzkill. Thankfully, the crew has an unspoken protocol whenever this happens, which essentially involves sitting down and doing nothing. The entitled asshole soon gets bored and moves on. It works pretty well. 

Though, I sometimes wonder if these people ever reflect on the situation. Do they ever consider the possibility that maybe my partner and his friends were out here to enjoy their art and culture—which is a street dance… on the streets? Or, that they were supporting each other’s creativity, training, and development? 

Who knows… White supremacy conditioning can run deep. But, at least in these cases, the monster’s not being fed. 

Flowers for Soon Chung Park

PeacePowerLove

Flowers for Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
Peace: 9″ x 6″ Watercolor on Cold Press

Power: 8.5″ x 8″ Watercolor on Cold Press
Love: 9″ x 6.5″ Watercolor on Cold Press
Prints available on Society6

Rest in peace and
the power we are taking back
Soften into
the immense afterglow of love
you ignited in all of us
and these flowers—
they are for you,
Dear ones
Home grown
with bittersweet tears and gentle light;
Immortal blooms
that will not be forgotten
(I’ll make sure of it).

I lost my language

I lost my language when
a thousand whispers told me it wasn’t worth keeping
The early Saturday mornings in class
were interfering with my weekends.

Now don’t get me wrong:
I am thankful for the priviledges I hold
granted by
English proficiency;
my communication skills
my writing abilities

But something still makes me feel raw
when I could not describe to my grandpa
the great depths to which I loved him
on those heavy days preceding his passing.
And years earlier
when I could never assure him
I was eager to listen when he wanted to talk
about grandma after she had also gone—
maybe then could his tears flow a little more easily.

And it still doesn’t sit right with me
when I could not explain to my grandma
how much ill health it perpetuated inside me
when she’d criticized my body;
A stolen chance
to make amends
Instead lay a silent chasm between us
until she died and
I was on the other side of the country.

Great regrets hurricane through me
as I desperately grasp ruptured threads of
my ancestor’s resonances
All that remains is
an immense lump in my throat
accumulated with
words that got lost in transit or
arrived too late to be received
bereaved messengers that never fullfilled their purpose.

Yet I know my language isn’t too late to find again
because even though all my of grandparents have left
I could at least pray to them
in a way they’d want me to.

What is yoga nidra?

I have been formally practicing yoga nidra for six years yet to this day find myself at loss trying to define it for people. If I have two seconds, I usually say something like “powerful guided relaxation,” but I know this simply could never do it justice.

How do I even begin to articulate the ways that yoga nidra practices have, for example, connected me with my ancestors? Or, uprooted and healed wounds that I had no idea existed prior? Or, snapped me out of more than several unhealthy habits that had been on replay since childhood? Or, amplified these intuitive inner voices during times of distress and confusion? Or, reliably led many creative projects through an effortless stream of unfolding? Or, granted me access to the wonderful world of lucid dreaming? Or, guided me into a space I can call home, wherever my physical geography?

Now don’t get me wrong—sometimes I really just need a yoga nidra practice to relax me after a stressful day or clock me out at a reasonable hour. It is not always a majestic experience, nor does it have to be. Plus, the ways in which yoga nidra practices meet each individual is very unique.

So although I cannot speak on behalf of what yoga nidra could be for you, I can tell you that there are a depth of treasures to be found beyond its much sought-after sedative effects.

If you are interested in exploring where yoga nidra could take you and not sure where to start, I would love to be of support.

Yoni Shakti Rising

Meditating Women: 6″ x 8″ x 1.5″ Acrylic on Birch Panels (3 of 15)
Full series on display at The Nidra Nest

Be aware of this movement. She is growing and unstoppable.
Yoni Shakti is rising, and you’d best be accountable.
Yoginis and allies: spread the word.
The fire of survivors will be heard,
so that femmes may reclaim yoga in it’s original canvas—
a sacred tradition for healing and justice.

COMPILATION OF EVIDENCE [info]
A list of highly positioned yoga teachers who have enacted gender-based abuse unto their students, along with their supporting institutions.

THIRTEEN WARNING SIGNALS [info] [poster]
Cautionary indicators that a yoga teacher, community, and/ or institution may be perpetrating gender-based abuse.

NINE CALLS TO ACTION [info] [poster]
What we must do to effectively resist and dismantle industrial yoga’s structures of gender-based abuse.

WOMB-FRIENDLY YOGA MANIFESTO [info]
Yoga techniques to avoid or practice with caution throughout the womb’s various cycles and conditions.

How to heal yourself from the inside out

HippocampusThe Birth and Death of Memories: 800 x 524 px
Golgi Stain of the Hippocampus by The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Step 1:
Walk.
Breath.
Sit and
peel away the layers
one
by
one.
Take time to
observe all
nooks and crannies
everywhere and
in between
delicate folds
within your
deepest sheaths.
Step 2:
Hold your wounds
with a quality of
tenderness
warmth and
Compassion.
Listen to your heart and
every beat it echoes as you
Honor and
Adore
its raw exposure.
Embrace this
divine mass and
promise
you’ll always
Be there.
Step 3:
Love and be loved.
Radiate
that mushy goo
out of every cell in your
Heart.
Connect with other
Wholehearts
and allow them to
beat beside you
in a
triumphant rhythm
that    roars
all that is
Good
across the sky.

Dharana

Dharana: 11″ x 4″ Watercolor on Cold Press
Prints available on Society6

Focus on a single object. It could be anything. God or a mushroom. Whatever else is happening, whatever is swirling through your head… concentrate like its the most important thing in the entire universe. Grow acutely aware of every tiny detail of the object, as if consumed in a metaphysical dance with it. And when the chaos tries to steal you away—smile at it. Then, refocus.

My Mother’s Plants

SunburstSunburst: 24″ x 24″ Acrylic on Canvas Print

The plants that
Sit
inside my mother’s house are
Gorgeously Blooming
all year long
with
Radiant Life.

She hasn’t read a single book on
horticulture or
used a special fertilizer but I think
they   trust   her.
Although they haven’t been around her whole life
I have a feeling they Know
of

all the meals she cooked for us
all the messes she cleaned up after us
all the dreams she made real for us and
all the nurturance she channeled to us
when we had fallen to the ground and could not get up
on our own—

I have a good feeling they Know
that she risked her life escaping chains for us
that she worked day and night to build a better life for us
that she breathed patiently throughout our reckless years for us and
that she loved us to the moon no matter what.

I’m fairly certain they’ve always Known
that their life was sown
by
Selfless   Hands
enamored with
more than enough
Care
they needed to   g r o w.

A Yogic Prayer for Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

May we always practice growing conscious of how we interact with all living beings—humans, animals, and plants alike—respecting the unity of life and reducing our collective suffering as much as we are able.

May we recognize that sexism, racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination, classism, and ableism are humankind’s samskaras (ingrained patterning), serving as systematized frameworks for violence. With this higher awareness, may we override these lower level processes and replace them instead with equality, justice, and peace.

May we stand tall with survivors of violence, amplifying their voice in strategic resistance. May we likewise channel our empathetic sorrows into compassionate action.

May we not forgot to heal our own wounds with tender love, and strive to halt the cycles of harm within and around us.

May our methods for addressing harm be wise, assertive, and patient. May we find the strength to transform our anger, judgement, and fears into a steady flame for diplomatic problem solving.

May we continually cultivate qualities of loving-kindness, empathetic joy, compassion, and equanimity, and allow that energy to ripple with gentle persistence into the karmic ocean of earth.

May we utilize the sacred practices of yoga intelligently to revolutionize the above ideals into reality.

Om Shanti Om.